Recently, BCAC and Sweet Louise filmed more stories from women living with advanced breast cancer. These new videos add further voices to the collection of He Koha a Mua, Gifts to the Future legacy videos. This project is a collaboration between BCAC, Sweet Louise, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ and Metavivors NZ that aims to record the experiences of these women, as well as wisdom and insights that they would like to share. The video collection is a way to honour the women interviewed, to celebrate their strength and beauty, and to provide inspiration and information to others facing a similar diagnosis.
Latest results from clinical trials with trastuzumab deruxtecan (brand name: Enhertu) have shown significant benefits for two groups of patients with advanced breast cancer: those with high levels of HER2 (HER2 positive), and also those with low levels of HER2 (HER2-low, a subset of HER2 negative breast cancers).
This drug has two components: trastuzumab allows it to home in on HER2 receptors on breast cancer cells, and then the deruxtecan component gets to work killing the cells.
Trastuzumab will already be familiar to those with HER2 positive breast cancer – on its own it is the drug Herceptin, which is routinely used to treat both early and advanced cancers of this sub-type.
Pharmac recently announced $190 million of new funding for medicines. However, only one breast cancer drug made it onto their investment list. Kadcyla (aka trastuzumab emtansine) is currently available in New Zealand only for those with advanced breast cancer. Recent research has shown that it is also useful for women with early HER2 positive breast cancer who have had chemotherapy and targeted therapy (Herceptin = trastuzumab) to shrink their tumours before surgery, but were found to still have some cancer left in the breast or lymph nodes at surgery. Pharmac has just announced it will fund Kadcycla for these patients (about 70 women per year). This treatment will halve the risk of cancer coming back for these women.
For many women recently diagnosed with breast cancer, the treatment process can be overwhelming and stressful. In certain situations, doctors may offer treatment with chemotherapy, targeted therapy or hormonal therapy before surgery to the breast and lymph nodes (neoadjuvant).
The Neoadjuvant Patient Decision Aid has been created by researchers at Breast Cancer Trials to help these women make an informed decision about their treatment. It is recommended for women who have recently been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.
The Neoadjuvant Patient Decision Aid was developed by a team of experts led by Australian Breast Cancer Trials Medical Advisor, researcher and medical oncologist, Dr Nick Zdenkowski.
The fear of breast cancer coming back is one of the most common issues faced by people diagnosed with breast cancer.
Recently a panel of experts from Breast Cancer Trials (Australia and NZ) discussed the latest in research and clinical trials, living with the fear of recurrence and how to manage that fear, as well as what help is available.
This informative online discussion, with a question-and-answer session, was recorded and is free to view, so if you missed it live you can still see it here.
15 May 2022
Please vote for BCAC so that we can send out more support packs. BCAC is excited to announce that we are one of 11 worthy organisations selected for the NZ Post Delivering for Good programme. This means that we will receive a year’s worth of free courier services with NZ Post, so that we can continue to send a free Step by Step pack out to every woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer. But the journey doesn’t end there. We now have the opportunity to receive a second years’ worth of courier services and need your vote.
BCAC is deeply disappointed by a report on cancer medicines released by the Cancer Control Agency, Te Aho o Te Kahu. We’re stunned to see that Te Aho o Te Kahu has identified only one breast cancer drug as needed but not funded in New Zealand. This is completely out of step with Australia and other countries and disregards international guidelines on breast cancer treatment. There are eighteen breast cancer medicines funded in Australia and not in New Zealand. These all have clinical benefit and many are recommended to New Zealanders with breast cancer, but only those who can afford to pay privately can be treated with them.
Dragon boating is a great way to increase fitness and have fun with other breast cancer survivors. BCAC member groups, Busting with Life (based in Auckland) and Waikato Treasure Chests (based in Hamilton), are both on the look-out for new team members. Contact details and latest news from these two teams can be found here:
21 April 2022
BCAC sends huge congratulations to former Committee Member Irene Kereama-Royal who has been awarded a scholarship by Hei Āhuru Mōwai (Māori Cancer Leadership Aotearoa) and the Cancer Society. Irene’s PhD research looks into the reasons for mistrust among whānau Māori with participating in genetics research and identifying the potential of genomics health to lift Māori health inequities in cancers. Irene (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto) will use her own whānau’s personal journey with cancer and achieving whānau wellbeing through the knowledge of genomics health as part of her research.
Knowing our genetic risk of diseases such as BRCA-related breast cancer can be lifesaving, but New Zealand insurance companies can use this knowledge to discriminate against us.
BCAC has joined Against Genetic Discrimination Aotearoa (AGenDA), a group of doctors, researchers, lawyers, Māori, Pasifika, medical charities and patient groups to fight this discrimination.